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How often do you make purchase decisions based on the carbon footprint of the company that makes the product? I try to consider things like this, but it’s not easy.
Much of what we buy, from toilet paper to the clothes we wear, is made by some of the largest companies in the world. Companies that are big enough to make an impact on our planet. But who holds them accountable?
Gary Hirshberg, chairman and former CEO of Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt producer in New Hampshire, saw how disinvestment in South Africa eventually ended apartheid. He thought why not develop a scorecard that shows how companies are doing with carbon footprint?
That’s when Climate Counts was born.
Climate Counts, a nonprofit, is a collaborative effort to bring consumers and companies together in the fight against global climate change. As Climate Counts project director Mike Bellamente tells me, they score consumer-relevant companies in 16 readily identifiable sectors – everything from airlines to pharmaceuticals. Companies are scored on a 0-100 scale based on 22 questions over 4 criteria to determine if they have:
- MEASURED their climate “footprint”
- REDUCED their impact on global warming
- SUPPORTED (or suggest intent to block) progressive climate legislation
- Publicly DISCLOSED their climate actions clearly and comprehensively
Take a quick look at this neat infographic (click on it to make it bigger). How are your favorite brands doing when it comes to climate change?
Green means the company is doing well or “striding”. Yellow indicates the company is “starting” to address its climate impact. The red indicates the company is “stuck” and there’s some work to be done.
Climate Counts also give consumers the opportunity to raise their voice against those companies who might not be up to par. You can email companies directly, via the Climate Counts website, to let them know you’re watching them and that their scores matter to you. Climate Counts provides sustainability consulting through their Industry Innovators program. There’s also an app you can download on your smart phone so you can look up scores and raise your voice on the go.
Mike noted in our conversation that the scorecard does have its flaws. It doesn’t measure social aspects, for example. But it is a start. And it is a tool to keep companies accountable.
Are you concerned about climate change? What steps do you take to fight climate change?